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February 8, 2019 | Theatre,

A Brief History of the Cutler Majestic Theatre

The Cutler Majestic Theatre has been home to over 100 years of productions of numerous musicals, vaudeville performances, opera and films. Soon the historic theatre will welcome J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls, matching the grandeur of the space with a fantastical set and thrilling plot, as well as When Angels Fall, with phenomenal multidisciplinary artists. As we look forward to When Angels Fall and An Inspector Calls, we wanted to take a look back and see what other performances brought the Cutler Majestic to life and how this venue has served Boston as a place for the city to experience worlds beyond us.

In 1903, the Cutler Majestic Theatre (at that time simply named the Majestic Theatre) opened its doors for the first time, with a performance of the musical comedy, The Storks which the Boston Globe described as, “from all accounts, is a very enjoyable entertainment.” The production was a transfer from Chicago and featured 25 musical numbers throughout the two acts, with songs such as “Picnic Song” and “The Fisher and the Mermaid.” The Storks ran at the Majestic for nearly five months, bringing Boston up to speed with the burgeoning theatre scene of New York City and Chicago. Until the 1920s, the Majestic became the pre-Broadway test theatre, using Boston audiences to gauge the success of any particular show before they moved onto New York.

While designed originally to host large scale musicals and operas, the Majestic took a new direction in the 1920s as vaudeville theatre. However, the Shuberts, who owned the theatre at the time, discontinued the vaudeville tradition within a year and started mixing live acts with second run movies known as “Proven Pictures.” This continuous programming was often stalled for pre-Broadway run productions, but the primary focus became a mixed art form house.

In the 1950s, the theatre was purchased by Benjamin Sack, who renamed the theatre. Now operating under the nomenclature the Saxon, the theatre was converted into purely a movie theater. The balcony was closed off, the interior lobby repainted to model a typical movie theater, and the overall facade of the original Majestic hidden away. The remodel was extensive, but impressive, enough that the Saxon hosted one of the first showings of Disney’s Fantasia.  However, single screen movie theaters began to fall out of favor and the Saxon went into disrepair until 1983 when Emerson College acquired the historic property.

The theatre reopened in 1989 with Emerson College’s production of George M! just nine months after the college began their restoration efforts. However, the entire restoration process was completed in 2003, just in time for the 100 anniversary of the theatre. The theatre also at this time adopted the named the Cutler Majestic Theatre, in honor of Ted and Joan Bernard-Cutler, whose generous gift in 1999 allowed the college to finish the restoration process.

Today, the Cutler Majestic hosts nearly 10,000 audience members a year, welcoming artists from all over the world and Boston. When Angels Fall and An Inspector Calls are no exception to legacy of amazing artists that have called the Cutler Majestic home. These are two productions that truly live up to the Majestic’s name and we cannot wait to welcome them to Boston.

When Angels Fall lands in Boston in just a few weeks! Here from France for five performances only, FEB 20 – 24.

An Inspector Calls joins us at the Cutler Majestic Theatre MAR 14 – 24!

Be sure to get tickets today for both these spectacular shows and witness the majesty of the Cutler Majestic in its full intention.

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